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Bare metal servers vs. virtual servers: Choosing the best option for you

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What criteria do you use when selecting the right cloud infrastructure to run a workload?  Why choose one over the other – bare metal or virtual servers? Let’s take a moment to discuss some of the key criteria that you should consider when selecting a cloud server environment.

IBM Cloud bare metal servers vs. IBM Cloud virtual servers

IBM Cloud bare metal servers deliver the power, capability, security and price performance needed to drive today’s enterprise workloads – especially those that are deployed over a sustained period – say more than a month or two. E-commerce, ERP, CRM, SCM, and financial services applications are just a few workloads ideal for bare metal.

But what about workloads that run only for short periods – say, less than a month (i.e. dev/test, backup and recovery, DR, or even survey or test scoring)?

This is when IBM Cloud virtual server instances (VSIs) serve as a perfect choice.

VSIs are fast and flexible – just like bare metal servers – but VSIs can be ordered and deployed in minutes – either as public or dedicated instances. You can even choose the host in which your VSI runs. Virtual servers are fully customizable, with options to scale up as your compute needs grow. In addition, you can deploy VSIs to the same VLANs as physical servers, which allows you to spread workloads across virtual servers and bare metal servers, while maintaining interoperability.

The history of a virtual server instance – bare metal

Ironically, both bare metal servers and virtual servers begin their life as bare metal because a virtual server (or instance) runs on bare metal hardware. But from there, a virtual server instance (VSI) requires a hypervisor, which is another “user” on the bare metal hardware that is directing traffic and resources. Using hypervisors, you can create multiple VSIs (computing instances) for each bare metal server instance. This drives up server capacity,  increasing utilization of each bare metal server, and lowering compute costs for short term usage.

So, while your short-term cost of running a workload in the cloud may go down with a VSI, there’s a price you’ll pay in areas of control, performance and security, let’s take a look:

  • Control – VSI hypervisors use up some of the machines computing power, but a pure bare metal solution runs without the hypervisor cycle “tax” – giving you more control outside of managing your own on-premise solution.
  • Performance – Bare metal servers can tune your application to run within an environment where you control everything – from the server host, to the RAM and storage drives. Organizations in the financial services sector find that the high performance computing requirements of their applications can significantly benefit from the power and control of bare metal hardware.
  • Security – Bare metal is single tenant, and under complete control of a single user, therefore more secure than a multi-tenant cloud or virtual environment. This is necessary for applications that work with information having to meet regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, HITECH, PCI DSS and Personally Identifiable information.

Get started with IBM Cloud infrastructure today

The best computing solution is up to you, and depends on your specific workload needs. There’s no negative choice here, but there is the best choice for your cloud infrastructure needs – whether it’s VSIs, or both bare metal and VSIs. And for this reason, IBM Cloud is the platform for all your cloud needs.

Learn how you can save on servers for a limited time today.

Compute Offering Manager

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